The Nuns of Abel

By Lily Walker


They called themselves the Nuns of Abel. Each day at school, they starved themselves with the knowledge that they were privileged with money. Their money—their families’ money— was so abundant that if they wanted to, the Nuns could dip hundred dollar bills into orange juice and swallow them whole like they did with cotton balls. They could let the crinkled chips of paper sit in their stomach until they  dissolved. They would throw up, because that’s all that would be in their bellies for exactly eight hours, until they would drink exactly half a cup of lukewarm chamomile tea, eat a handful of cherry grape tomatoes and maybe some yogurt or fruit if they binged. And then, to last them a little longer, they would chew on mint leaves until another eight hours rolled around. I’ve heard of eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia—this wasn’t it. This was something they prided themselves in making up.

The Nuns of Abel got their name four years ago when my old friend Eden created them. Girls who joined were there to kill themselves. It was dangerous. I do not know why Eden liked danger, because I never did. Eden was afraid of water. Eden was afraid of gluten. Eden was afraid of blue skies. Eden was afraid of steep staircases and banana peels. Eden was so afraid of the world that when I looked at her, I could see her soul shivering through her body. She used to eat small bowls of salad and only drink water. She was mildly healthy.

Then she took a religion class our freshman year and learned about the blossoming garden—the nourishing, plentiful garden—that was supposed thrive inside of her. She also learned that Cain was the first baby born, and Abel was the first person dead. After that, she mourned Abel’s death as if he were the little brother that she once had. Eden wore black to school, defended Abel’s old honor by preaching it to girls who would listen. They all wore black. They ate less. They became the Nuns of Abel. The name, she told me, was because they bashed people who deserved to be bashed. They sinned, because someone had to. They would need to be punished, because punishment was inevitable when sinning was attainable.

They all wore the same thing. They all ate the same thing and walked in single file. I do not know why. I would have liked to know why.

Eden was ninety-two pounds. Eden did not like boys. Eden was hospitalized. Eden did not eat.

I visited her once and her skin was yellow and thin. I could see veins. Her eyes glazed over me. Her mouth hung open when she tried to talk. I told her,

“Your body is a temple.”

She told me,

“My body is a garden that nobody believes in anymore.”


Lily Walker is a freshman creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana, and growing up in such an eclectic community has greatly influenced her writing. Lily has received an honorable mention in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in poetry. Her work has appeared in Red Wheelbarrow, and she has read in an Eighth Blackbird performance. The one thing she recommends for everyone is to be happy.